Play and Flow

Flow

When we play we engage the subconscious and react instinctively, our minds and body become seemingly hard wired. We often do things without thinking about them or say things things without thinking about what we are saying, only to find ourselves questioning it afterwards. Our minds are not full of this conscious thought that occurs during post questioning, or when we think about our actions, we simply play.

Playing when we are young is natural, and almost essential, yet when we get older it becomes refreshing and sometimes scary. Our conscious minds become serious and full of control, belittling the act of play as something without purpose or value. How does it help us pay the rent? We should be training instead! How does it help us with our career? and so on. The older we get the more we activate the conscious mind through education, demands of society and the desire to act with the ego to keep us socially safe and of values to others. We become more and more attached to the self image of ourselves, that we project to others, which is generally made up of what we believe others want us to be. We start changing the clothes we wear to meet the projected self image we have made up, and even change our friends, our jobs and our hobbies to keep this self image intact and climbing the social ladder.

During all this time we loose the value of play and connection with our true self. We become obsessed with our self image and become to see this image of ourselves and actually who we are. Meanwhile every minute we spend on this self image we live in the conscious mind and loose connection with the subconscious. We build the ego, a sense of control, and a fear of loosing control as the conscious mind takes controls of our thoughts, our being, and our identity. Before long we are attached to our thoughts as if each thought represents who we are. We spend most of our day on our own heads entertaining the thoughts that fleet in and out. When we train and practise for our performances we order and expect the body to react and perform. We approach our training and performances with this egoic self image we have created, which is full of fear and self doubt, yet we expect our body to perform without nerves or self doubt. When we play well we congratulate the self image for being so good, when we perform badly, we tell ourselves we are rubbish or start blaming external factors.
We all share this pattern to some extent or another, it is part of being human and having an egoic conscious mind. The question that needs asking is, does it help our performances? Although the rational and logic of the conscious brain can help with structurally changes in our training regimes, debating different strategies, or analysing what we could do better, when it comes to the actual performance and we want to be in flow. Learning to use the mind as a tool rather the who we are is critical in obtaining flow more readily. When we learn to value play and prioritise it over our conscious thoughts during training and performances we become very close to being in flow. When we are playing we become attached to being in the moment, we start experiencing life in the here and now, and open up the opportunity for flow. When we play we do not think of the pressures around us, we simply play. When we play we do not focus on our weaknesses and doubts, we just play. When we play we do not demand or expect the body to do anything, the body simply plays willingly. When we play we do not question our motivation or worry about our energy levels, we simply are engulfed in play.

 

For more info please get in touch or purchase our book on flow.

 

 

 

Getting into Trance for Flow

Getting into Trance for Flow

Tips and Training

 

Simply follow the following directions:

Make yourself comfortable either sitting or standing and focus on one small area out in front of you. Pick a spot that is above eye level. Maybe this is a small section on a wall or a tree outside, whatever you choose make sure it doesn’t move. Focus in on this one area, finding new detailed information the longer look. Keep your eyes on this one spot, staying fox all the time gaining as much information as used on the small detail you can see. Over a couple of minutes allow you vision to become very tunnelled as you go smaller and smaller, slowly becoming more and more aware of the detail in this small single point. When you have been transfixed on this one area for a couple of minutes, whilst keeping your eyes transfixed on this one spot, allow your periphery vision to widen. Start to see what is to the left and right of the spot you are staring on and keep widening you periphery vision until you can see the floor in front of you.

This is essentially what happens during our performances when we are focused on the task at hand whether that is looking at a tennis ball or our partners arm as we perform a complex dance move. We maintains fixed focus point, yet our periphery pick sup all the detail the body needs to know to do what it is doing. In examples see on the ball of playing tennis, whilst the focal point is focused on the ball, the periphery is taking in vital information such as how far away the net is, where the opponent is moving, where the line we are aiming for is positioned, and so on. The subconscious is busy digesting and adapting to this new information, so we can make the best shot available to us.

As take in the new visual information in your periphery, start to become aware of your other senses. Maybe, you can feel the wind against your face, the clothes against your skin, or the ground beneath your feet or bottom. Maybe you can hear noises around you both close and far aware. Allow all your senses to become heightened as you become fully connected to the moment. Turn up the senses like you turn up the volume button on a remote control. Become fully engaged as you experience the now, just as it is. Stay in this space for as long as you can, raining your mind to stay connected to the moment experiencing it without the grip of the conscious mind.

You may start to notice thoughts come in and out of your otherwise clear mind. When they do simply acknowledge them and let the flow out, as you would a leaf that floats past you in the wind. Simply be aware of them, and let the leave as quick as it came. Simply focus on connecting your senses to the moment. See if you can feel what is happening behind you, to the sides of you, below you and above you. Allow you presence to be all around you, almost as if I it exists outside of your body.

The above practice normally elicits a slight state of trance, a light state of hypnosis, our gateway to flow. The more we practice getting in and out of these states, the more we become aware of trance states already existing in our day to day lives. These trance states are very similar to the light trance states we experience when driving a car on auto pilot, or loosing time when we are engulfed in surfing the internet. We are doing what may seem a simple task without the conscious interference of stress, fear or other conscious thoughts. We do these task without ego and self image, we simply do them just as we breath, or pump blood round our body.  Trance, like flow, has no identification with the ego, it does not dwell in the realm of the conscious mind, it simply exists and functions effortlessly and incredible efficiently, just as we want all our performances to be.

 

For more info please get in touch or purchase our book on flow.

 

 

Trance Helping Returns

Trance Helping Returns

Flow Stories

 

During one training session I was experimenting with different techniques to get me in the same state as when I looked at this tennis ball for hours on end. I often would try different things to help me with get a small advantage. This time My eyes started focusing on the small granules of the surface below before I hit my returns. In tennis you generally lift your head to let the server know you are ready, so they can go ahead and serve, and I would keep my head low until I had cleared my thoughts and was ready to return.

So as my head was low, I would look at the court below psyching myself up before every serve. The more I looked at the court, the more I saw the incredible detail In every square inch. Each inch was different, it had different colours in it, it seemed to be made up of lost of different materials and layers. Before this time I had always seen a tennis court as a tennis court, some where cemented some were grass, some were made of clay. Now I was looking at each surface with new eyes. Soon the square inch became a square centimetre, and the square centimetre became a square millimetrer. I started focusing on the smallest of detail I could find on the surface below, whether that was a blade of grass, a sparkle on the cement, or a grip of clay or sand.

Focusing on this detail seemed to put me in a trance like state, where I had no thoughts, no distractions, I was simply observing. It was a quiet place, where I could recently myself, regather my thoughts and clean the slate of my brain before the next point. I started moving this square millimetre further and further away, always trying to remain focused on one small piece of detail. Over time, the tiny detail was at the foot of the net. I would stand there bent knees, head down, preparing for the serve. Meanwhile I was staring at the surface of the net looking for a tiny detail in the surface. Once I had it I would look up and the oncoming ball seemed far bigger than it ever used. I was used to focusing on something tiny on a millimetre wide, let alone looking at a ball the size of an apple.

Not only did the ball seem big, I felt completely connected with what I had to do one every return. The noise had left my head and I simply looked of at the ball and responded.

 

For more info please get in touch or purchase our book on flow.